Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant confirmed two things during a quick stop at Staples Center on Thursday: The guard expects to return for the 2015-16 season, and he doesn't care what people think about it.
In a brief interview with ESPN, the 36-year-old said his shoulder was predictably sore after undergoing surgery that's expected to sideline him for about nine months. He replied in the affirmative when asked if he planned to play again.
"Yeah, that's the plan," Bryant said.
He aims to be ready for training camp in September. He was then asked whether any of the outside talk about his future would have an impact on his decision. Unsurprisingly, he downplayed the discussion.
"I don't really listen much to what people have to say, to be honest with you," he said.
Bryant was averaging 22.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 1.3 steals per game prior to tearing the rotator cuff in his right shoulder. However, poor shot selection and a lack of talent around him contributed to a career-worst 37.3 percent field-goal percentage on 20.4 attempts per game.
Kobe's career outlook has been the subject of much speculation. If you ask Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times, it might be time for Bryant to hang it up:
Eric Pincus @EricPincus
Also in link - I make the case on video - Kobe should retire, but he's earned his Derek Jeter season from Lakers http://t.co/2vtNI0zSNE2015-1-28 03:08:19
The 19th-year pro, who signed a two-year, $48.5 million contract extension with the Lakers in November 2013, was also clocking 34.5 minutes per game. While down from his peak numbers, it still represented a high total for a player working his way back from a serious knee injury.